Remy's Ratatouille Adventure glows with morning light in the France pavilion at EPCOT

What's Popular at Walt Disney World

A Brilliant Guide from Wishful Thinking


In our Brilliant Guides, we simplify things. Get expert tips for first-timers & returning guests. Perfect for Disney newcomers & travelers from abroad, we cover the basics & highlight what matters most.

In our Brilliant Guides, we simplify things. Get expert tips for first-timers & returning guests. Perfect for Disney newcomers & travelers from abroad, we cover the basics & highlight what matters most.


What's Popular at Walt Disney World

From must-do rides to hot new restaurants, Disney’s mega-fans show up first and grab all the spots. For 2024 / 2025, let’s identify what’s most popular so you don’t miss out on the best of the best.


You’ll need to know what books up in advance vs. what you can wait and experience whenever you like.

But first: let’s step back a moment and look at the big picture. It’s nearly impossible to appreciate the size, scope, and scale of Walt Disney World. It’s enormous. Millions of guests travel here annually. Nearly a quarter million visit on an average day! But while crowds have returned, the most popular experiences remain very selective – there simply isn’t enough space for everyone to enjoy the best stuff. 

Because Disney can’t accommodate everyone, Walt Disney World limits the capacity and offers reservations for the best experiences. No reservation? No plan? You probably won’t get to experience it. 

At Walt Disney World, you can reserve:

  • Attractions & Rides | Some attractions won’t let you ride without a reservation.
  • Dining | Many restaurants won’t offer you a table without a reservation.
  • Experiences, Events & Tours | Princess makeovers, handbuilt lightsabers, & behind-the-scenes tours book up far in advance.
  • Live Shows | Live theater & dinner shows require reserved separate tickets.
  • Entertainment | Fireworks, parades, and shows offer the best views to those with a reservation.
  • Holiday Parties | Halloween & Christmas enjoy private, separately-ticketed parties in Magic Kingdom.
  • Resort Hotels | Walt Disney World’s resort hotels are often booked solid months in advance.

For most of what’s popular a reservation, you won’t get in. Or, you’ll be forced to endure a long wait.

Since the pandemic, many longstanding systems at Walt Disney World have changed — and continue to change regularly. Sadly, your favorite social media channels are probably giving you outdated advice.

We visit the Theme Parks and resort hotels every month. We’ve got clients checking in every week. As a member of a Gold Authorized Disney vacation planning agency, Disney informs us about its numerous operational changes from day-to-day. That gives us authoritative, expert tips to guide your way. And we’ll handle all your additional reservations for you.

Best of all, our help is free.

Begin planning your trip right here ▸


Don’t get trapped waiting in long lines. You’ll check more rides off your list if you know where the crowds are going.

As you plan your day, keep this short list in mind. The most most popular attractions are listed first — and typed in boldface. The others are also very popular. Use this list to help you decide about Disney Genie+; be sure to see our guide to Genie+ and Lightning Lane recommenations▸


  • TRON Lightcycle / Run
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
  • Space Mountain
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Jungle Cruise
  • The Haunted Mansion
  • Pirates of the Caribbean 


  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
  • Frozen Ever After
  • Test Track 
  • Soarin’ Around the World
  • Mission: Space
  • Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana


  • Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance
  • Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway
  • Slinky Dog Dash
  • Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run
  • Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Toy Story Midway Mania


  • Flight of Passage
  • Expedition Everest
  • Kali River Rapids (less busy on cold days)
  • Na’vi River Journey
  • Kilimanjaro Safaris


It might be mystifying to know exactly why certain attractions are more popular than others. It’s not merely based on what’s newest; most of the Magic Kingdom’s most popular attractions have barely changed in 40+ years. Rather, many of these attractions are popular because they’re timeless, they’re fun every time you ride them, and they appeal to guests of all ages. 


Ultimately, there are many ways to make sure you get to enjoy Disney’s most popular attractions, including:

  • Enjoying the theme parks during Early Theme Park Entry (or Extended Park Hours) — available only to those who are staying in Disney Resort Hotels 
  • Arriving at the park before opening (aka “rope drop”) or staying until the park closes

The best way to check more rides off your list? Let us help you out. We’re experts at theme park planning, and our help is free. For a personalized plan, just tell us what you’d like to do ▸

A golden statue of Bambi and Thumper greet guests at Disney's Animal Kingdom for the 50th Anniversary celebration Fab 50


Disney’s best restaurants always fill to capacity. Let’s identify what’s most popular so you can score a coveted dining reservation.

Most of Walt Disney World’s restaurants take dining reservations — even casual, affordable restaurants that are designed for guests of all ages. Without a reservation, it’s very likely that you’ll be turned away. Some will take walk-in guests who are willing to wait… but those waits can stretch beyond an hour. No fun, especially when you’re hungry.

Dining reservations are free to make* and free to cancel, so it’s smart to book even more than you think you might need.


By and large, these are the reservations that are most difficult to get. We’ll list them in alphabetical order and share a few details about why they’re so popular.

• Akershus Royal Banquet Hall | Inside EPCOT | A Norwegian-inspired family-style feast with table-side visits from numerous Disney princesses. | Why it’s so popular: for now, it’s the only character dining with numerous princesses like Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mulan, Tiana, and Rapunzel.

• Be Our Guest | Inside Magic Kingdom | A French restaurant located inside the Beast’s castle. | Why it’s so popular: the ballroom, complete with golden, sparking chandeliers, feels like you’ve stepped into the beloved film. The Beast hosts a photo-op at the entrance, and the food’s pretty good, too.

• California Grill | Inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort | A California fusion restaurant on the top floor of the hotel that’s closest to the Magic Kingdom. | Why it’s so popular: the cooking is excellent, and all diners are free to step outside on a private terrace for a birds-eye view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.

• Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ | Disney Springs | Affordable, nearly perfect American southern comfort food, with exemplary fried chicken and the best brunch at Walt Disney World. | Why it’s so popular: Art Smith was once Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, and once you taste how good his recipes are, you’ll understand why.

• Chef Mickey’s | Inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort | A huge American buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with character appearances. | Why it’s so popular: it’s very close to Magic Kingdom and it features the “fab 5” characters: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto.

• Cinderella’s Royal Table*  | Inside Magic Kingdom | An upscale restaurant located inside Cinderella Castle serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. | Why it’s so popular: it’s undeniably romantic, especially at dinner, and includes an audience with Cinderella herself.

• Jaleo | Disney Springs | Upscale Spanish tapas  — all delicious — and an impeccable Spanish wine list in a stylish, vibrant space that’s inviting and never intimidating. According to guest satisfaction ratings, this is the top-ranked restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. | Why it’s so popular: chef José Andrés is one of the most famous celebrity chefs in the USA, and his numerous restaurants across the globe enjoy great acclaim. He’s achieved two Michelin stars and numerous James Beard awards. His generous philanthropy with his World Central Kitchen placed him on Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people and earned him a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

• Oga’s Cantina | Inside Hollywood Studios | A bar serving photogenic, artfully prepared space-age cocktails in a setting reminiscent of the famous cantina from Star Wars Episode 4, “A New Hope.” | Why it’s so popular: it feels very old-school Star Wars. The setting and the drinks are Instagram-worthy.

• ‘Ohana | Inside Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort | A family-style restaurant serving American food for breakfast and Polynesian grilled meats & noodles for dinner. | Why it’s so popular: the atmosphere is warm & convivial, it’s near Magic Kingdom, and breakfast delights with character interactions with Lilo, Stitch, Pluto & Mickey Mouse.

• Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater | Inside Hollywood Studios | A terrifically-themed American comfort food restaurant where diners sit in cars, parked at a drive-in movie theater under a starlit sky, watching clips from comical B-movie sci-fi thrillers and 1950’s “News from the Future” newsreels. | Why it’s so popular: the concept is zany and fun, the food’s pretty good, and the atmosphere is kooky and unique.

• Space 220 | Inside EPCOT | A highly-styled restaurant serving lunch and dinner within a futuristic room that’s designed as if you’re onboard a space station. Huge “windows” gaze out into the vastness of space, 220 miles above Earth. | Why it’s so popular: it’s one of the newest restaurants on property; many are curious to try the new spot. Among those who have dined, reviews of the food are notably mixed.

• Story Book Dining at Artist’s Point | Inside Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort | Meet Snow White, the Evil Queen, Dopey, and Grumpy in a sparkling tree-filled dining room serving a delicious pre-fixe European dinner. | Why it’s so popular: the cuisine is easily the most creative character dinner on property, and the setting is charming.

• Topolino’s Terrace | Inside Disney’s Riviera Resort | A rooftop restaurant serving a cooked-to-order breakfast with characters and excellent Italian food for dinner. | Why it’s so popular: it’s got the tastiest, best-prepared cuisine of all the character breakfasts. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Daisy appear in beguiling costumes as if they’re touring the Riviera. The Italian menu at dinner is a bit pricey but the elegant room feels celebratory and splurge-worthy.

• Via Napoli | Inside EPCOT | A large Italian food hall serving freshly baked pizzas from a wood-fired oven and homemade pasta specialties. | Why it’s so popular: many guests don’t have easy access to Italian food that’s this fresh and delicious, and guests of all ages find something to love here. The kid-friendly atmosphere is boisterous and buzzy.

• Victoria & Albert’s  | Inside Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa  | The premiere restaurant at Walt Disney World, a formal-attire multi-course dinner that aims to serve one of the best meals you’ve ever had. The pre-fixe menu starts at $295 per person, which does not include wine, tax, or gratuity. Exclusively for guests aged 10 and above. | Why it’s so popular:  wedding proposals, honeymoons, anniversaries, and special occasions happen here every evening. Most guests treat it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and they dress up accordingly.

• Yak & Yeti  | Inside Animal Kingdom  | An exceptionally tasty tour of East Asia, featuring a fusion menu that combines flavors from Japan, Thailand, China, Vietnam and beyond. | Why it’s so popular:  it’s some of the most delicious Asian cuisine in all of Walt Disney World. Even young kids and fussy eaters find something to love here, and the cocktails & desserts are phenomenal.

See below: Savor the Savannah and the various dessert parties are noted under Popular Experiences, below.


All Walt Disney World dining can be booked via the MyDisneyExperience website or smartphone appYou may also call 1.407.WDW-DINE (939-3463), but the wait to speak to a representative is often long. If at all possible, rely on the website / smartphone app.

Which restaurants accept reservations? | Those that Disney designates as Table Service restaurants accept reservations. For Quick Service or Kiosks, you’ll simply walk up and order.

Does it cost money to book dining?  | You must provide a credit card number as a guarantee when you book any dining reservations, but Disney doesn’t charge your card — except *Cinderella’s Royal Table, where you prepay for the meal when you make the booking. (You may still cancel up to midnight the day before your reservation for a full refund.) A handful of other experiences like dining shows & dessert parties are also prepaid.

Are there cancellation fees? | It’s easy (and free) to cancel any dining reservations up until two hours before your reservation. However, if you do not cancel your reservation (or modify it to a different date) and you fail to arrive at the restaurant by the end of their service hours, Disney may charge a no-show fee of $10 per guest. To avoid this fee, it’s easiest to modify your reservation to a future date and then cancel it. Or, if you’re near the restaurant, simply speak to the podium host and politely explain why you won’t be able to dine.  Cast Members are understanding.

What happens if we arrive late for our reservation? Do they give our table away? | Disney is much more accommodating than a typical busy restaurant in the real world. Sudden thunderstorms, kid meltdowns and attraction breakdowns are common, and — especially in the theme parks — these restaurants are designed for such high-capacity that it’s not difficult to accommodate latecomers. It’s better to arrive very late than to not show up at all and risk a no-show fee. Similarly, if you’re quite early, many restaurants will be able to seat you after a short (5-10 minute) wait. Please note one exception: Cinderella’s Royal Table can rarely accommodate early arrivals;  latecomers might not be seated, especially if you’re a party of 6 guests or more.

Who can reserve dining? | Anyone can make a dining reservation. You do not need to already have your theme park ticket or hotel booking to make a dining reservation. Any guest may dine at a resort hotel restaurant; you don’t need to be staying at that hotel. However, if you want to eat at a restaurant inside a theme park, you’ll need to enter the park with a valid theme park ticket / Park Pass reservation. You may book reservations for all the members of your party or just a portion, but to make it easy to view all your plans, it’s best if the Lead Guest on any Disney Resort Hotel reservation also books all the dining under their own account. Also, your dining reservations are unaffected by a Disney Dining Plan.

When do reservations become available to Disney resort hotel guests? | If you’ve linked a confirmed hotel reservation in a Walt Disney World resort hotel — all hotels owned and managed by Disney, plus the Four Seasons and the Dolphin / Swan / Swan Reserve — you may reserve your dining 60 days before your arrival day, plus all the days of your reservation (up to 10 days).  On the web / smartphone app, each new day’s reservations become available at 6:00 AM Eastern Time. Over the phone, representatives begin answering calls at 7 AM Eastern.

When do reservations become available to the general public? | For those who are not staying in one of the participating Disney resort hotels, dining reservations become available 60 days in advance. As above, on the web / smartphone app, each new day’s reservations become available at 6:00 AM Eastern Time. Over the phone, representatives begin answering calls at 7 AM Eastern. But please take note: because Disney resort guests have advance access, many of the most popular restaurants listed above will be fully booked before they become available to the general public. It’s a major perk for staying on Disney property. Want to move your reservation? Get in touch. We can help.

How can we get last-minute reservations? Can we just show up and ask for a table? |  It’s recently gotten much easier to get last-minute tables, now that Disney’s extended the window to cancel a reservation to just 2 hours beforehand. For breakfast reservations, look online the night before — between 11 PM and midnight. You’ll often find a new treasure trove of early tables that sleepyheads have just cancelled. For same-day tables, it’s smart to open the app, check dining, select today’s date, and then view the current availability & estimated wait time for walk-up lists. For most restaurants, you’ll need to be physically nearby to join the list. Take note: outside peak lunch or dinner hours, some restaurants will be able to seat you even if the app shows no availability, so if you’re nearby, it never hurts to physically walk up to the restaurant and ask.

A helpful tip: if you’re having trouble finding a table for your party, increase your party size to 4 or 6 guests. It’s no trouble to reduce your actual party size when you check in at the restaurant. Similarly, if your party has an extra guest or two, the restaurant host can usually make adjustments to accommodate you all.

If Wishful Thinking books your Disney vacation, we can book all your dining reservations for you.

Let’s set up your Walt Disney World vacation ▸


From princess makeovers to lightsaber building to a wine-tasting meal on an African savanna, Disney’s most popular experiences book up months in advance. And the fan-favorite merchandise is on a whole other level.


Savi’s Workshop — Handbuilt Lightsabers | Inside Hollywood Studios | Guests (5 years of age and up) can create their very own lightsaber within Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, guided by a Jedi-trained member of the Resistance. Expect chills. Same-day reservations are very hard to come by; it’s typically booked solid. Book your reservation up to 60 days in advance (or 60+ your vacation days, if you’re a Disney resort guest) via MyDisneyExperience.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique | Inside the Magic Kingdom | Guests between the ages of 3 and 12 are invited to take part in a royal makeover with Fairy Godmothers-in-Training. Your child can become a princess, knight, pirate, pixie fairy, or anything their own sparkly creativity might imagine. Kids of all genders & gender expressions are welcomed. Reservations are required — the salon books up and walk-in appointments are rare. Book your reservation up to 60 days in advance (or 60+ your vacation days, if you’re a Disney resort guest) via MyDisneyExperience. | Note: as of spring 2024, the additional locations at Disney Springs and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort have not yet reopened after the pandemic.

Dessert Parties | Enjoy a guaranteed spot — with a premium, terrific view — for a theme park’s evening spectacular / fireworks, and enjoy an elaborate spread of tasty desserts, savory snacks, enchanting drinks, and unlimited beer and wine (for guests 21 and over).  Dessert parties are offered at Magic Kingdom every night — including as a supplementary experience during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Holiday Party and Very Merry Christmas Party. (They’re sometimes offered at EPCOT and Hollywood Studios during peak season — summer, spring break, the Christmas holiday period.) Book your reservation up to 60 days in advance (or 60+ your vacation days, if you’re a Disney resort guest) via MyDisneyExperience.


Anyone can return home with a mere souvenir t-shirt or a mug. Disney’s merchandise fans take their devotion to an entirely different level. Here’s the merch that we can undeniably say is: a thing.

Mouse ears | The headband accessory of choice for hundreds of thousands of Disney guests around the world, these iconic headpieces come in dozens and dozens of styles. Many are themed to recent Disney or Pixar films, while others draw inspiration from Disney snacks, classic attractions, or even the resort hotels. Although Minnie Mouse ears (with the bow in the center) outnumber the style of Mickey Mouse ears (without the bow), you’ll see guests of all ages and genders in mouse ears on a given day at the parks. And yes, you can wear them at dinner. 

Popcorn buckets | Although popcorn refills in Disney’s decorative buckets are cheaper than a fresh new box, that’s not the real reason that Disney collectors freak out over popcorn buckets. They’re highly coveted collectors items. On the days when new, limited edition popcorn buckets appear, guests will wait 2+ hours in a line to get their hands on one. True.

Mickey Mouse balloons | Instantly iconic, but only sold in a handful of locations; Main Street U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom and — on occasion — the entry plaza of Disney Springs. You often cannot take them on board Disney’s attractions, so save this purchase for the very end of your day — or before heading back to the resort for a mid-afternoon break. The helium typically lasts about three days.

Bubble wands | Endlessly fascinating to the young set, you’ll see hundreds of children with their fingers on the triggers of these battery powered light-up toys that emit a non-stop stream of miniature bubbles. Replacement solution is sold in all four theme parks. 

Loungefly bags | After this designer brand started selling unique, brightly colored, whimsical handbags and mini-backpacks a few years ago, their popularity took off. Many are available online.

Sipper cups | Similar to the popcorn bucket phenomenon, small plastic coverings for refillable drinks are a Disney Parks collector’s item. Let’s face it: they’re toys. For grown ups who really like soda.

Spirit jerseys | Extra large, oversized lightweight sweatshirts with printed text on the back that stretches beyond the margins of your shoulder and flows down the sleeves. They became a fashion trend first at Disneyland in California, where perennial sweater weather make them highly practical on a theme park day.

Figment, Orange Bird and Olu Mel | A handful of Disney characters aren’t popular because of their appearances in Disney films or TV shows. They’re original to the parks, and if you’ve never been to Walt Disney World, you might have no idea who they are. But you’ll see them on everything from plush toys to jewelry to housewares. Figment is an adorable purple dragon and the unofficial mascot of EPCOT, where he’s the star of Journey Into Imagination. Orange Bird is what you’d get if an orange could fly; he was developed in 1970 for the Florida Citrus Commission’s sponsorship of the Enchanted Tiki Room at Magic Kingdom. You’ll see him at Sunshine Tree Terrace and  EPCOT’s International Flower & Garden Festival. Olu Mel is a ukelele-strumming green turtle who makes his home at Aulani – a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. He’s a member of the Duffy & Friends franchise, which enjoys enormous popularity in the Asian Disney parks. In Florida, you’ll find his merchandise at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.


VIP Tours | Invite a Disney Cast Member to accompany you throughout your day and grant you exclusive access to skip the lines on nearly every attraction. To book a VIP tour, contact us — we’ll set up your booking for you.

Keys to the Kingdom | Go behind the scenes at Magic Kingdom park on a 5-hour walking tour. You’ll learn about the history of Walt’s original vision for Disneyland, see how some of the illusions in the Haunted Mansion work, and even explore the famous Utilidors — the utility tunnels underneath the Magic Kingdom. Book online up to 60 days in advance (or 60+ your vacation days, if you’re a Disney resort guest) via MyDisneyExperience.

Caring for Giants | Elephants | Disney’s Animal Kingdom features an incredible family of perky pachyderms. On this tour, you’ll meet their veterinary care team and go behind the scenes of the animal savannas to learn more about what goes into the elephants’ care. Typically scheduled 4 times per day, morning through early afternoon. Book online up to 60 days in advance (or 60+ your vacation days, if you’re a Disney resort guest) via MyDisneyExperience.

Savor the Savanna | During your day at Animal Kingdom park, enjoy a private 2-hour animal safari paired with a delicious meal featuring African cuisine. Book online up to 60 days in advance (or 60+ your vacation days, if you’re a Disney resort guest) via MyDisneyExperience.

Up Close with Rhinos | A 60-minute guided tour where you’ll come eye-to-eye with the planet’s second largest land mammal. Animal Kingdom’s white rhinos were the stars of the Disney+ program on Animal Kingdom, and you’ll have the chance to see those animals on this unforgettable tour. Typically scheduled once per day, mid-morning. Book online up to 60 days in advance (or 60+ your vacation days, if you’re a Disney resort guest) via MyDisneyExperience.

Wild Africa Trek | The premiere tour of Animal Kingdom. This VIP expedition includes awe-inspiring animal encounters, fun-filled physical trail exploration, and a gourmet meal.  Typically scheduled four times per day, morning through noon. Book online up to 60 days in advance (or 60+ your vacation days, if you’re a Disney resort guest) via MyDisneyExperience.

Learn more about additional tours ▸ 


Walt Disney World hosts numerous events throughout the year. Here are the ones that draw the biggest crowds.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party | From mid-August through late-December, the Magic Kingdom hosts dedicated holiday parties about 3 nights a week. Through Halloween, it’s an eerie & entertaining Halloween party, and from November through December, it’s a mirthful, merry Christmas party. They’re flat-out terrific, and an incredible way to really glow-up your vacation. We’ve got lots of more info to share, and you’ll want our inside expert tips when Wishful Thinking sets up your party tickets:

Learn all about Disney’s holiday parties and how to get tickets ▸ 

New Year’s Eve | Throughout Walt Disney World — historically — the events of New Year’s Eve are positively bonkers. It’s impossible to overstate just how many people want to be at Disney to ring in the New Year.  Most years, NYE celebrations happen at Magic Kingdom (which does not serve alcohol, except at select table service restaurants), and at EPCOT and Hollywood Studios (where the booze flows freely).  Typically, Animal Kingdom closes well before midnight; same for Disney Springs. No special ticket is needed for New Year’s Eve — all entertainment is included for theme park guests. But single-day tickets for each park are restricted, and park-hopping admission may be paused when the theme park is at capacity.

EPCOT Food & Wine Festival | EPCOT hosts four festivals throughout the year, but their Food & Wine Festival remains the most popular. The World Showcase food stalls and kiosks can feel especially crowded on weekends and evenings. No special ticket is required for entry to the festival — you simply need a valid theme park admission. 

Wondering what to reserve?  Send us a text message and say hello ▸


Disney parks are the most Instagrammed locations on Earth.  We’ll show you where you’ll earn the most likes.

Disney Walls | #wallsofdisney

The walls have ears. A few years ago, Instagrammers realized that certain backdrops around Walt Disney World made for terrific backgrounds. In time, those walls took on a popularity all their own, earning their own trendy hashtags like #purplewall, which continues to reign supreme as the ultimate Disney World Instagram location. Here are the #WallsOfDisney that are most definitely a thing:

  • Purple Wall | Magic Kingdom, located near the entrance to Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor | #purplewall     
  • Toothpaste Wall EPCOT, located near the exit to The Seas with Nemo and Friends | #toothpastewall
  • Popsicle Stick Wall | Disney’s Hollywood Studios, located near Toy Story Midway Mania | #popsiclestickwall

PhotoPass & PhotoPass Lenses | #photopass

PhotoPass photographers are Disney’s own Cast Member photographers, located at dozens of locations throughout all four Disney theme parks, Disney Springs, and the water parks. You’ll find them in front of the most iconic backdrops like Cinderella Castle, EPCOT’s Spaceship Earth geodesic dome, the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, and the Millennium Falcon spaceship within STAR WARS Galaxy’s Edge. Anyone can pose with PhotoPass photographers — even if you haven’t prepaid for the pictures. Learn more here. 

In 2021, Disney introduced Photo Pass Lenses, new Snapchat-esque filters for selfie pics and videos that you capture with your own phone. PhotoPass Lenses are exclusively available for those who pay for Genie+.

The best way to view Disney’s ever-changing photo pass images is via Disney’s own PhotoPass Instagram Account.

Disneybounding |  #disneybounding

Imagine wearing an outfit that takes inspiration from the color palette and style of a famous Disney character, yet isn’t a literal costume. That’s Disneybounding, and it’s terrifically popular. While you can #disneybound on any day of the year, many showcase their outfits at Walt Disney World. (Disney only permits guests to wear actual costumes within the theme parks at their popular Halloween party.) Take your look to the next level by booking a Character Couture makeup & hair styling session at any of the Walt Disney World full-service salons.

Dapper Day | #dapperday

#DapperDay invites guests dress up in their Sunday best, paying homage to the fashionable guests who attended Disneyland’s opening day in 1955. Although the look is not limited to just one era, the trend typically showcases mid-century fashion from the 1940’s through the 1960’s.  The Dapper Day organization names event dates at Disney parks worldwide. 

 Other popular hashtags

As you can imagine, guests love to post pictures wearing their Mouse ear headbands with the hashtag #mouseears or #mickeymouseears. | It’s nearly a must to pose for a picture in front of the Magic Kingdom’s #CinderellaCastle. |  If you know what’s good for you, enjoy some delicious #dolewhip. | Walt Disney World guests also love to mark their pictures with the hashtags #bestdayever, and #disneygram

Show us some love! Use our hashtag #wishfuldisney and follow us on Instagram ▸ 


Wondering what’s going to be the next big thing? Let’s identify what’s on its way and when it’ll arrive. You’ll want to be ahead of the crowd.

It’s hard to list every possible refurbishment or enhancement that’s on its way to Walt Disney World, but here are the biggest, most exciting projects on the horizon.


Tiana’s Bayou Adventure  |  A renovation of the iconic Splash Mountain, featuring the same boat ride path and splashdown hill. An all-new story takes place after the events of “The Princess and the Frog,” featuring Mama Odie, the saxophone-playing aligator Louis, an adorable band of animal musicians, and extended members of Tiana’s family.  |  Announced opening date: June 28, 2024

Magic Kingdom expansion | An all-new expansion will come to the area behind Frontierland & Big Thunder Mountain railroad. Reportedly, Imagineers are dreaming up an area that’s inspired by Disney villains. | No timeline or opening dates have been announced.


Tropical Americas | A new land, replacing current-day DinoLand USA. Inspired by the real world topography and historic archaeology of Mexico through Colombia, featuring all-new attractions inspired by “Coco,” “Encanto,” and the Indiana Jones franchise. | No timeline or opening dates have been announced.


Test Track | A re-imagined pavilion drawing on the past, present, and future of the automotive industry, taking inspiration from the attraction’s own history as the World of Motion (1982 – 1996). | No timeline or opening dates have been announced.

Play Pavilion | In the space of the former Wonders of Life, this innovative and flexible space will rely on new technology to create ever-evolving atmospheres and interactive exhibits. Expect a focus on fun for the younger set. | No timeline or opening dates have been announced.


Cake Bake Shop by Gwendolyn Rogers | At Disney’s BoardWalk Resort, a new location of the popular eatery and bakery from Indiana. | Expected opening: summer 2024

Disney Vacation Club at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort  | A new tower with spectacular lake view accommodations is coming to one of Walt Disney World’s original resort hotels. | Announced opening: December, 2024

Want to make sure you’re on top of the news? Get weekly updates in your inbox ▸ 

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command greets guests within Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World


Walt Disney World in 2024 & 2025

When is the best time to visit? How busy will it be in the theme parks?

Why should I book a hotel on-property vs. off-property?

What’s located at each theme park? What’s a must at Disney Springs?

What rides, dining, & experiences are most popular & need reservations?

How can I combine park tickets, dining, and hotel stays to save money?

What are realistic tips for transportation and getting places on time?

How much do park tickets cost? Which ticket options save money?

When & where do I use the smartphone app, Genie+ and MagicBand?

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Flying boy who doesn't want to grow up
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A Wishful Thinking travel planner is:

  • Bright. We’re nerd-level experts on Disney’s past, present and future.
  • Talented. We’ve been designing travel itineraries around the globe for 15 years.
  • Realistic. We help you prepare for everything and set honest expectations.
  • Whimsical. Spontaneous fun often produces our most treasured memories.
  • Inspiring. We’re still kids at heart who believe in the power of dreams.

It’s never too early to start planning!

You do the wishing. We do the thinking.™

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Wishful Thinking is an affiliate of Looking Glass Travel, a Gold Authorized Disney Vacation Planning agency, and an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner..

Disney pays us to help plan your trip, from your first wish list until your departure. We’ll even assist you during your vacation until you’re happily back home.

Our trip planning is free. When you book a Disney vacation through us, you’ll pay the same price as if you booked it on your own, yet enjoy the bliss of a talented Wishful Thinking travel planner.

A Wishful Thinking travel planner is:

  • Bright. We’re nerd-level experts on Disney’s past, present and future.
  • Talented. We’ve been designing travel itineraries around the globe for 15 years.
  • Realistic. We help you prepare for everything and set honest expectations.
  • Whimsical. Spontaneous fun often produces our most treasured memories.
  • Inspiring. We’re still kids at heart who believe in the power of dreams.

It’s never too early to start planning!


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